Houston pretty much has everything. You can find any type of cuisine, crazy art cars, fancy museums and quirky museums, quiet sleepy subdivisions and very tall high rises that you can feel sway in the wind. But did you know that Houston has a state park?
Sheldon Lake State Park is a state park in Houston, TX. It’s hidden in the far east side of Houston where the developments haven’t quite reached yet.
I first heard about it months ago (after living here for 12 years) while looking for a good place to go fishing in Houston. Every web page I found on Sheldon Lake State Park talked about the good fishing but that you had to be wary of the alligators.
Alligators? That’s all I needed to know. Fishing was out for sure but this was definitely a place we needed to visit.
So the other day I tricked the family into loading up the van, with a backpack full of water, snacks and bug spray, and we made the thirty minute drive to Sheldon Lake State Park.
And when I say that I tricked them, I truly mean that I flat out deceived them. I told them that we were all going to the park. My youngest asked if it was the one with the big slide. Um. No.
We drove for about 15 minutes before they gave up guessing and just settled in for whatever adventure we were going on.
As we pulled into the park, my husband actually said, “well this looks kinda cool”. Score for the boring mom who usually drags them on long nature walks in the middle of nowhere. This was still the middle of nowhere but it was a nature walk with the opportunity to see alligators.
Here’s the scoop on Sheldon Lake State Park:
- It’s free
- It’s small
- You can see it all in a few hours.
- It’s a great day trip to get out of the city and explore.
We pulled up to the Ranger Station and were greeted by a really great Ranger who gave our kids each a Jr. Ranger book and told them how they could work their way through it to become a Jr. Ranger.
Their grumbling that I was dragging them to another park was quickly replaced by excitement. The Jr. Ranger book was a huge hit and really made our kids dive into the nature inside of the park.
If you go with kids, I highly recommend you ask about it!
Sheldon Lake State Park used to be an old fish hatchery so it is divided up into many small ponds. The neat thing is that even though they are in rows back to back, you never know how each one is going to look until you are standing right in front of it.
Some ponds are almost taken over by lily pads or other aquatic plants while others are full of grasses or smooth and serene.
There are many clean and smooth trails that go around the ponds and a few that go to the north through a prairie area.
We took one path out to the huge tower that you can climb to the top. The Ranger told us to take the stairs rather than the solar powered elevator because the elevator is hot. Unless you run triathlons for fun, take the elevator.
The view from the top of the tower was amazing. In one direction you can see a prairie, one direction you see Sheldon Lake with the city of Houston in the distance and on the other side of the tower you can see the port of Houston.
We went during the week when no one else was at the park so we were able to sit on the benches at the top and take a little break while the girls worked on their Jr. Ranger books.
We spent the entire afternoon at the park and had a great time.
But – we never saw an alligator.
Well, except the concrete variety.
Would we go again? Yes probably so. It would be interesting to go in another season to see how everything has changed.
It’s a great place to go an explore for a few hours. Plus who knew there was a state park in Houston?
Well now you do!